Located in between old Member States and emerging markets in the East, Central Europe’s logistics sector has an enormous potential to add value to the region and create an employment opportunities. Challenged by rising demands on just-in-time delivery and increasing environmental costs of cargo transport, the interoperability of logistics businesses has become a critical success factor for the competitiveness of logistics hubs. High transaction costs due to the different standards in managing software systems represent bottlenecks especially for the collaboration between small businesses and global players with own systems.
Latest technological developments and applied research have demonstrated that cloud computing might be just the right solution for this problem. In the simplest of terms, cloud computing is an IT solution, where third party hosts your IT structure on a large remote server station with you having an access to it over the internet. And as the access to modern IT tools has been identified as a key factor in enhancing competitiveness, a highly innovative IT tool has the potential to strengthen Central Europe‘s strategic importance for cargo transport between North and South, old and new EU members and evolving East European markets.
The cloud computing can therefore help to overcome the deficit in interoperability between actors in logistics networks concerning a single hub and moreover, a multi-cloud concept facilitates their transnational collaboration, e.g. enabling collective cargo transport by sustainable means (e.g. train instead of individual road transport).
The project LOGICAL is based on and further develops the "InterLogGrid" research project, funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research, where the cloud computing concept has been developed to overcome this bottleneck and is taking and tackling the problem on transnational level by unleashing the full potentials of a multi-cloud concept where a significant number of logistics hubs are connected virtually.
The interoperability of logistics businesses has become a critical success factor for the competitiveness of logistics hubs, challenged by rising demands on just-in-time delivery, energy prices and increasing environmental costs of cargo transport. Especially small and medium sized businesses (SME) need a stronger network to co-exist next to global players and force their business. The advantage of global players with their standardised IT systems and software solutions is overwhelming. To strengthen SME in the logistics sector the LOGICAL project was designed to developed a standardised logistics cloud solution. Within the LOGICAL cloud all business relevant software bundles are embeded like Enterprise-Resource-Planning, office solution, business search functionalities and specific regional software solutions. Also the interoperability of different transportation means can be fostered by the development of a fuzzy matching engine for intermodal transport. The six central European regions (Leipzig (DE), Wroclaw (PL), Zahony (HU), Ústí nad Labem (CZ), Bologna (IT) and Koper (SI)) collaborating in the CENTRAL EUROPE project LOGICAL will tackle these challenges to promote the network of logistics SME. The cloud solution right now in development can interlink SMEs from various logistics sectors, like an airport, freight village and container harbour.
The LOGICAL project has already raised a lot of awareness in the regional logistics companies and invited them to follow the project closely and hosted business workshops in all regions. A specific business survey in the companies about the IT used and major problems present in the current solutions was conducted. It showed the need for an easy-to-use, standardised IT solution with unlimited access for all kind of devices. Another result of the survey is the major constraint in data security and other legal issues in connection with company data. The partnership refined the inputs and implemented them in the developed LOGICAL cloud architecture. To enable unlimited communication, functionalities and interoperability between 6 language versions, a specific ontology was implemented with external support by the InterLogGrid project. At the current state of implementation a running LOGICAL cloud platform with relevant logistics software packages is available. A search feature like the yellow pages is running for all regions. Standardised software solutions (like an Enterprise resource planning or an office solution) are included.